Freudenthal Home Health Blog

Freudenthal Home Health salutes family caregivers in the St. Joseph, MO area who are giving wonderful care and help to their senior loved ones each and every day. Our goal with this blog is to give information and resources to help and support St. Joseph, MO area family caregivers.

A Happy Valentine's Day Craft!

Paper Plate Valentine Heart Wreath



  • Paper (card stock or construction)

  • Paper plate

  • Ribbon

  • Scissors

  • Glue




  1. Cut various sizes of hearts out of your card stock or construction paper.

  2. Cut out the inner part of the paper plate leaving the outer rim intact. You will be using the outer rim for this heart wreath craft.

  3. Begin randomly gluing hearts onto the paper plate until you feel like you have enough hearts on your heart wreath. 

  4. Add a ribbon to the back of the plate to hang the wreath. 


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Trading Spaces: Should You Move Them In?


Making the decision to move a care dependent parent into your home is never an easy decision. Each situation is different and deserves to be thoroughly analyzed before you jump in feet first. Here are some questions that need to be addressed as you’re going through the decision process.


  • How will I talk to my parent about moving?

  • How does my spouse and children feel about moving them into our home, and how will it change our lives together?

  • What things will be easy for us to negotiate in living together, and what things will be hard?

  • What are the limits of my ability to care for my parent at home, and what if I have to put them in a nursing home?

  • How will my siblings feel, and how much help will they give me in caring for our parent?

  • Will their friends come to visit them at my house, or will they be dependent on me for all her socializing?

  • What are my needs for privacy and alone time?


Adapting Your Home

  • Where will my parent sleep—in my daughter's room, convert the den, build an addition?

  • What assistive devices do I need—grab bars in the bathroom, raised toilet seat, ramps, etc.?

  • Does my parent smoke or drink, and will that be a problem for me?

  • Does my parent have a pet that will be coming with them, and how will I cope with caring for it?



  • What will the financial arrangement be? Should I charge rent? Will I have expenses for them to cover?

  • How will my siblings feel about the financial arrangement?

  • Will my work situation have to change, and if so, how will I cover the bills?



  • Will my parent need care during the day, and if so, how will it be provided?

  • How will I juggle my job, childcare responsibilities, marriage, and taking care of my parent?

  • When will I be able to make the phone calls needed to make arrangements for my parent?

  • When will I have time for myself?


Personal Care

  • How comfortable am I with helping my parent bathe or changing an adult's diaper?

  • Do I know what to expect over time as my parent’s condition changes?

  • How is my health, and will I be able to take care of myself as well as my parent?

  • Am I willing to accept respite care to get a break?

If you are facing these questions, a family consultation with a Freudenthal Social Worker can help you sort out the pros and cons of such a move and provide information and resources to make things easier for you and your family. Call us at 816-676-8050 today!

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Family Caregivers: Taking Care of Yourself

“The care you give to yourself is the care you give to your loved one…” 

The easiest thing for someone to say and the hardest thing to accept is the advice to take care of yourself as a Family Caregiver. It can be hard to see beyond the care tasks that await you each morning.

Study after study shows that caregiving compromises health. About 60% of caregivers show signs of clinical depression, and they take more prescription medications, including those for anxiety and depression, than non-caregivers in their age group. 75% of caregivers in America are women, some taking care of spouses/partners, some adult children taking care of parents, some parents taking care of adult children. Let’s look at what taking care of yourself means, why is it so hard to do, and how to do it.


Support and coping comes in many forms—prayer, talking to family, friends or professionals, taking walks, reading a book, eating hot fudge sundaes, and most of all saying “yes” to offers of help. Sadly most caregivers end up withdrawing from friends and family and feeling isolated and as if no one understands. Support groups can be an important source of understanding and connection.


“Guilt is cancer. Guilt will confine you, torture you. It's a black wall. It's a thief.”

As there is no “perfect parent,” there is no such thing as a “perfect” caregiver. And you are not selfish to sometimes think about yourself and your needs and feelings. Although we will feel guilty when we get angry or frustrated, these feelings are OK and a way to know how well you are coping.

Setting Limits

Learn to ask for help. The often-heard question, “Is there anything you need?” has but one answer: Yes. “Yes, I need a meal, I need someone to stay here so I can go out, I need some time by myself, I need flowers, I need help in the garden, I need some groceries.” Learn to say “no” to requests that are draining rather than nurturing, such as hosting holiday meals. You can still make choices about your life and what is right for you and you do still have some control.

Your Body

Not getting enough sleep is a major cause of illness and stress in caregivers. Exhaustion is one of the main complaints, leading to irritability and then inappropriate anger which then leads to more guilt. Know the limits of your own endurance and strength. Make sure you have regular check ups and that those “little concerns” about your health are looked into. Exercise is even more important as it gives you a break, combats depression, and helps you maintain health. Family caregivers often worry about what will happen to their loved one if something happens to them. Worrying doesn’t help — taking better care of your health does.


Learn as much as you can about the illness so that you can understand what is happening. Attend a workshop or support group, not just for emotional support but also to learn caregiving tricks to make caregiving easier. Contact someone, like a Freudenthal Social Worker, who can help you connect with community resources and use them.

Emotional Health and Respite

It is easy to become overwhelmed, thus the need for breaks. Without breaks, you begin to question yourself, feel inadequate, and experience burn out. Family Caregivers need time away and scheduling respite care can be exactly what “the doctor ordered.” Having a family member or even calling Freudenthal to schedule care so you can get a break from time to time is important for you health.

Another stressor of caregiving is seeing no end to the situation. Having a life and connections outside of caregiving helps you to maintain perspective, so that caregiving doesn't become oneʼs only reality. Sometimes, your best and only defense is a sense of humor. Find people or situations to laugh at daily. It refreshes the soul and renews your spirit.

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Define Your Life With Intention

…disease does not need to define anyone, a person does not need to give the disease that power.  Instead, a person with a chronic disease may need to define his or her life in a way that is different than it was prior to the onset of the disease.

Read More

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Wishing You A Happy New Year!

May 2019 be a blessed and happy year for you and your family!


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5 Well Rounded Resolutions for the New Year!

Every year we make resolutions to improve our lives during the coming year, and more often than not our galant efforts fall to the side as we manage our daily journey. Life has a way of derailing the best laid plans. This year we propose that you don’t shoot for the stars, but plan for your journey!

Drastic changes to our daily habits and routines are hard to manage and often unsustainable, but small changes made over time that augment our life can make a positive impact in our over all well being. We’ve scoured the health journals and came up with 5 well rounded resolutions that are easy and can truly make a difference in your life.


Look For The Laughs

Laughing everyday not only acts as a stress reliever, it also stimulates your entire brain! Laughing also releases antibodies that help to build up your immune system. So whether you start reading the comics in the newspaper or buy a joke book, make sure to build more laughter into your day. Remember, laughter is also contagious so, not only are you helping your health, you’re also improving the health of those around you!


Get Puzzled

Find brain teasers and puzzles you enjoy solving. From word searches to crosswords, or even more complicated things like sudoku, puzzles help you to build your brain power and improve your memory. According to research studies, regularly engaging your mind may help lower your risk for the dementia associated with Alzheimer's disease. If you have a smartphone there are several free puzzle apps. You can also find free puzzles like these!


It Out

Regular stretching not only keeps you limber, it also helps prevent injury. If you are struggling with Parkinson’s make sure all your stretches are big and over exaggerated to help your body recalibrate and help you manage your symptoms. Look for natural opportunities in your daily routine to stretch, like making it a part of your routine of standing up and sitting down. Every time you stand up, stretch out your arms and do a little march in place to get the circulation going. Even putting in a side to side stretch can help you with your balance. Dr. Robert Knowles gave us some great daily exercises in a recent blog post —> click here!


A Snack

You don’t have to substitute every snack, but try to substitute one or two a day with a healthy option. If you’re more the grazing type; try to keep nuts, like almonds, around so you can eat a few here and there throughout the day. Substituting carrots for a cookie not only brings down the calorie count but increases your fiber intake. That’s a nutrition double play!


Take The Stairs

If you have the option to do a little more exercise, take it. If you can climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator, go for it. If that’s not possible, try parking one more spot away from your destination in the parking lot. As you build up strength, move another space away. The more you exercise the better, but do it in increments and with care.

Start your year off with these five easy resolutions and you may be surprised how healthy you are when next year rolls around!

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Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and your family a very Blessed and Merry Christmas!

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Top 5 Ways To Beat The Winter Blah!

The days are getting shorter and the winds are getting colder, it’s a sure sign that winter is saying hello. For some, this time of year is a time of happiness and celebration, but for many seniors winter can be one of the most depressing seasons. Winter depression is still a mystery to scientists who study it. Many things, including brain chemicals, ions in the air, and genetics seem to be involved. However, they all agree that one major contributor to this seasonal depression is the lack of light, which leads us to number one on our list!


Let the
light shine in!

Open those blinds and turn on those lights. Get as much light as you can. You might even consider looking into lights that simulate the brightness and glow of natural light. It seems simple enough: In higher latitudes, winter days are shorter, so you get less exposure to sunlight. Replace lost sunlight with bright artificial light, and your mood improves.

Alfred Lewy, MD, a seasonal affective disorder researcher at the Oregon Health & Science University, says it's not only a matter of getting light, but also getting it at the right time. "The most important time to get light is in the morning," he says. There are alarm clocks that actually simulate the rising of the sun and gradually fill your room with light to help you wake up in a more natural way and start your day off right.


Listen To The Music

A 2013 study in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that people who listened to upbeat music could improve their moods and boost their happiness in just two weeks.

In the study, participants were instructed to try to improve their mood, but they only succeeded when they listened to the upbeat music. Plus, a happier mood brings benefits beyond feeling good. Lead study author, Yuna Ferguson, noted that happiness has been linked to better physical health, higher income, and greater relationship satisfaction.


Spend Quality Time

People who spend time with family and friends helps to relieve stress. A study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University found that people use their family and friends as a stress buffer, talking about their problems instead of seeking negative coping mechanisms. The emotional support provided by social ties enhances your psychological well-being. One study found that people who view their friends and families as supportive reported a greater sense of meaning in life and felt like they had a stronger sense of purpose.


Make New Plans

Nothing gets your mind off of your problems like having something to look forward to. Plan something to do, whether it’s a vacation or going to local events. Consider buying tickets to a concert, plan a night out, or head to a movie. The key here is to find something that you’re really excited about doing and savor not only the experience, but the anticipation of doing it.


Cuddle With A Pet

Studies have shown that pets can be both fun and calming. These furry friends can be the perfect companion in a moment of depression and sadness. When you’re feeling down, spend some extra time petting your cat or playing catch with your dog. You’ll both be happier!


Call Out For Help

If nothing seems to help, don’t hesitate to call out for help. Call your family, friends, doctor, or Freudenthal. We are here to help you find the care you need, no matter what! We want to help you live a full life at home surrounded by compassionate care.

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Check out our new commercial!

Freudenthal Hospice is the realization of a goal to provide a complete continuum of care at home. We’ve brought together the best team of hospice professionals who care deeply about their patients and families.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from your Freudenthal Family!
May your day be filled with love and blessings!


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DYI Memory Coasters!


With Christmas upon us, here’s a meaningful gift that won’t break the bank and can help jog the memory of your loved ones. The best part is that you don’t have to be a super crafty person to make this wonderfully practical gift!

Here’s what you’ll need to create some cute and personalized photo coasters:

  • pictures

  • square tiles
    (ideally a tile with a rough surface)

  • Mod Podge

  • small paint brush

  • felt

  • spray adhesive

  • clear top coat spray

  • newspaper or magazines

Step 1:  Prepare your pictures

Find clear pictures that distinctly show the faces of individual family members. Use a free app like “Phonto” to add your names to the photos. You can print your photos at home on computer paper. You may want to use a photo paper or laser printer if you’d like to ensure the best quality for your photos. Cut the photos to the same size as your tiles. They don’t have to fit perfectly on the tile, since the Mod Podge will ensure the photo adheres well to the edges of the tile.

Step 2:  Glue photos to the tile

Pour a quarter-size amount of Mod Podge on your tile and use the paint brush to spread it across the top of the tile. A thin coat should be fine because a little bit goes a long way.  Then, Place the picture of top of the tile and pressed it down so it adheres well. Make sure you smooth out any bubbles and then let dry.


Step 3:  Seal the photo


After the glue was dry, pour another quarter size amount of Mod Podge on the top of the picture and spread it across the surface. Spread it all the way to the very edge of the tile to make sure the edge of the photo adheres well to the tile. Use enough that the surface of the tile looks white and the photo is no longer visible (It dries clear, so don’t worry!). Let it dry completely until it is dry to the touch.

Cover the photo with a second layer of Mod Podge to make sure it’s good and thick.


Step 4:  Add felt to bottom of the tile

Cut out felt squares to be slightly smaller than the size of the tile so that it won’t be visible when the coasters are turned over and being used.

Spray the adhesive onto the back of the tiles (if possible do this outside to ensure proper ventilation) and then place the piece of felt right on top. Press it down to make sure it adheres well. Lay the tile down with felt up in the air and let the adhesive dry about an hour or so before continuing. Otherwise, you might have sticky fingers!

Step 5: Add a protective layer

Spray a thin and even layer of the topcoat over the top and edges of the tiles.  Let this dry for an hour or so. Spray a second coat on the tiles to make sure they are well protected.  Let everything dry well overnight.

Once they are completely dry, you are ready to use them or give them away!  Stack them on top of each other and then tie them up with some burlap twine.

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Happy Veterans Day!

We proudly salute the men and women who have fought and continue to fight for our freedom. Happy Veterans Day from your Freudenthal Family!

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LSVT Big — Hope for Parkinson's Patients

In this wonderful interview, Maureen Raffensperger, PT, DPT and Stephanie Hughes, PTA explain what LSVT Big is and how it helps give hope to those living with Parkinson’s Disease.

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5 Exercises To Increase Balance & Stability

Dr. Robert Knowles, DPT

Dr. Robert Knowles, DPT

Unfortunately, the impact of falls among older adults can be significant. In addition to the likelihood of a slower healing process along with the chance that complete healing may not occur, fall-related injuries can quickly become a vicious cycle. When seniors fall, they often develop a fear of falling which can lead them to become sedentary. The more sedentary they become, the weaker their bones and muscles become. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of future falls and injuries, and may ultimately impede their ability to live independently.

To combat this we’ve asked Dr. Robert Knowles, DPT what older adults can do to keep from falling. Dr. Knowles has been a key member of the Freudenthal Physical Therapy Team for 3 years and has helped many seniors along their road to recovery and helped them prevent future falls. Here are his top 5 exercises that can help improve balance and stability and help prevent falls from happening.

1) Standing March



  • Begin in a standing upright position with your feet shoulder width apart and hands resting on your hips.


  • Lift one leg with your knee bent, then lower it back to the ground and repeat with your other leg. Continue this movement, alternating between each leg.

TIP: Make sure to keep your back straight and maintain your balance during the exercise.

2 times a day
1 set of 10 reps

2) Standing Hip Abduction



  • Begin in a standing upright position holding onto a chair at your side for support.


  • Lift your leg out to your side, then return to the starting position and repeat.

TIP: Make sure to keep your moving leg straight and do not bend or rotate your trunk during the exercise.

2 times a day
1 set of 10 reps

3) Standing Hamstring Curl with Chair Support



  • Begin standing with your hands resting on a stable surface.


TIP: Make sure to keep your back straight and maintain your balance throughout the exercise.
  • Pick up one foot and bend your knee as far as you can. Then, lower your leg back to the floor and repeat.

2 times a day
1 set of 10 reps

4) Lunge with Counter Support



  • Begin in a standing upright position with your hand resting on a counter at your side.


TIP: Make sure to keep your trunk upright and use the counter to help you balance as needed. Do not let your front knee collapse inward or bend forward past your toes.
  • Step forward and bend your knees to lower your body into a lunge position. Press into your feet and straighten your legs to stand up and repeat.

2 times a day
1 set of 10 reps

5) Heel - Toe Raises with Counter Support



  • Begin in a standing upright position with one hand resting on a counter in front of you.


TIP: Make sure to maintain an upright posture and use the counter to help you balance as needed.
  • Rise up onto your toes, hold briefly, then lower back down and lift the balls of your feet off the ground. Repeat.

2 times a day
1 set of 10 reps

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Kick Frailty To The Curb!

As each of us get older, becoming frail is the last thing any of us think about. Many times I’ve heard people comment how cute they find an elderly man or woman that is frail. “They’re just like a porcelain doll.” I guarantee that none of us will think it’s cute if we become frail ourselves.

What is frailty and why should we care about it?


Frailty is a decline in strength or energy that actually puts older adults at risk for illness and injury. It’s impacted by things like proper nutrition and getting enough exercise that helps to build and maintain muscle. We have to care about this because frailty is an extreme loss of strength and energy. It puts our loved ones and ourselves at greater risk for developing illness and being injured. Frailty is one of the leading causes of falls in the home of those over the age of 65. It also depletes the immune system so that we have a harder time of fighting off illness. The good news is that it can be screened for by a physician.

Recognize The Signs of Frailty

  • Low Energy

  • Depression

  • Slow walking

  • Decreased Grip Strength

  • Sudden or unintentional weight loss

Get in the fight and kick frailty to the curb!


Now that you know what frailty is - it’s time to start fighting against it. Combating frailty revolves mainly around diet and exercise. Make sure you’re eating a balanced and healthy diet that helps to boost your immune system. Making sure that you’re adding leafy green vegetables like kale and peas in your diet. These have the highest amounts of protein and help to rebuild muscle. Along with protein make sure sources of calcium and vitamin D are included in your diet to help with bone strength and muscle health.

You may also need to speak with your doctors and see if any of your medications may be affecting your appetite. You will also want to maintain good dental health, not only because it helps your heart, but also so you can chew comfortably.

Along with all the changes in diet, we need to make sure we’re staying active. There are a lot of great activities that can help us remain physical. Freudenthal is proud to be able to help with this by providing exercise classes all across the area lead by Kelly Jarrett, PTA. There are also exercises like walking and Tai Chi that are very popular in our area.

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It's Time To Get BIG For Parkinson's!

Have you heard of LSVT Big? It’s a great program that is changing the lives of people suffering the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease. LSVT BIG trains people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) to use their body more normally.  People living with PD or other neurological conditions often move differently, with gestures and actions that become smaller and slower. LSVT BIG effectively trains improved movements for any activity, whether “small motor” tasks like buttoning a shirt or “large motor” tasks like getting up from a sofa or chair or maintaining balance while walking. The treatment improves walking, self-care and other tasks by helping people “recalibrate” how they perceive their movements with what others actually see. It also teaches them how and when to apply extra effort to produce bigger motions – more like the movements of everyone around them.

This therapy can only be administered by certified physical and occupational therapists, physical therapist assistants, and occupational therapist assistants. Freudenthal is proud to offer this amazing therapy. Maureen Raffensperger, PT, DPT and Stephanie Hughes, PTA are leading the way in helping PD patients maintain and even regain movement and mobility to continue the activities of daily living. For more information about this amazing program, call us at 816-676-8050!

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Blood Cancer: What You Need To Know

Anytime we hear the word cancer it can be scary and confusing. There are so many different types of cancers, but today we’re going to focus on blood cancers. Blood cancers affect the production and function of blood cells, makes sense right? Most of these cancers start in our bone marrow where blood is produced. Stem cells in your bone marrow mature and develop into three types of blood cells: red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets. In most blood cancers, the normal blood cell development process is interrupted by uncontrolled growth of an abnormal type of blood cell. These abnormal blood cells, or cancerous cells, prevent your blood from performing many of its functions, like fighting off infections or preventing serious bleeding. There are several types of blood cancers and several subtypes within each blood cancer.

My loved one or friend was just diagnosed with blood cancer - how can I help?

It depends on how much you want or can do to help. One of the most important things you can do to help is to stay in touch with the loved one or friend. You can help with little things, or perhaps even take on larger tasks. Mowing the lawn on a weekly basis may seem like a small thing to you; however, it is a huge thing that a loved one wouldn’t have to worry about. Driving them to appointments may not seem like "really helping out;" however, to the family it is one less issue that needs to be resolved.

Other ideas:

  • Make dinner

  • Offer to come over and do laundry weekly or clean the house

  • Do weekly grocery shopping

  • Walking their dog or helping take care of other pets

Being available for whatever your loved one or friend needs is one of the greatest gifts you can offer. Even if you’re not a family member, by simply being there, you can be a genuine gift to your friend and their family caregivers. Remember it can be a long road. Oftentimes it can be easy to become burned out, especially if you are a family caregiver. When those moments happen it’s important to have resources to help pick up the slack and give respite care. Freudenthal offers many services that can help fill in those gaps and help smooth out the bumps in the road. Don’t hesitate to call us with questions at 816-676-8050!

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Preventing Falls & Saving Lives


The effects of falls are staggering and sometimes even fatal. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury among older adults, and the most frequent reason for non-fatal trauma as well. Statistics show that every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall and every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall. 

Family caregivers can help their senior loved ones stay safe, whether they’re living with them or separately. The National Council on Aging suggests following these steps:

1. Discuss function levels, medications, eyeglasses.

Family caregivers can only do so much. Many seniors believe they won’t fall — or they won’t get seriously hurt. Discuss their current health conditions and if they need help managing their medications. Ask them if any of their daily tasks are more difficult than usual, and try to ensure their eye prescription is up to date.

2. Look for warning signs and take action.

If your parent is holding onto walls, furniture or other people when walking, it’s time to speak with their physician about having a Freudenthal physical therapist do an assessment. Some aging adults may be resistant to using a cane or walker as they see it as a loss of independence.

3. Get a fall risk assessment.

Is the carpet on one pesky step torn? Is the kitchen step stool wobbly? Is the bathtub slippery? Contact Freudenthal for a safety assessment. Our professionals will walk through the home, looking at lighting, stairs, bathrooms, bedrooms, the kitchen and common spaces to ensure the fall risk is minimal and pointing out what could be changed.

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Peace Of Mind That Saves Lives

Freudenthal ERS not only brings your family peace of mind, but it can also save your loved one's life in more ways than one. Listen to these success stories...

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Hospice Volunteers: A Light In The Darkness

When someone enters into hospice care, it's always with a terminal diagnosis. It can be a moment of darkness facing our own mortality, but there are a special group of people who are shedding light during these moments of darkness. Volunteers help to brighten the lives of hospice patients in various ways. 

“Facing the end of life takes courage, perhaps especially for the family members of patients. Facing that approaching loss is a difficult thing. But, we don’t have to face it alone. This is the real gift of hospice services—support for both patients and their family members at every step of the way. And, with support, we can find comfort and even beauty in coming to terms with end-of-life and the process of grief.”

The value of hospice volunteers is immeasurable. They bring a sense of normalcy to the hospice patient and the family. This can also allow them to build very strong and personal relationships with the hospice patient and their family. 

"I’ve been a hospice volunteer for a decade. I provide respite for caregivers of terminally ill people. I know that sounds depressing in itself….honestly, it’s rewarding work. Volunteers are asked to take blankets to patients on hospice. The blankets are crocheted by generous, kind souls that enjoy their craft."

Not all hospice volunteers make visits, some create blankets or other comforting items that other volunteers take out to the patients. Volunteer roles can vary based on the talents they offer to share. 

"...she happily shared with me memories of trips she had taken, documented carefully in numerous scrapbooks. We spent hours together going through those scrapbooks.   After several months, as Ann Marie’s condition improved, she was discharged from hospice..."

Not every hospice case ends in death, conditions can improve and they can be discharged. Sometimes a little bit of light in a dark moment can be enough to change hopeless into hopeful. Being a hospice volunteer can change not only your life but the life of the patient and their family. If you're interested in applying to be a volunteer, fill out our application here, or contact our volunteer coordinator Stefanie Nold.

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